The unanswered questions on Cummings at the Downing Street briefing

In a bid to "move on" from the continuing row over his chief aide Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister thwarted questions on the issue at the daily briefing in Downing Street.

Mr Cummings is accused of breaking lockdown rules by travelling from London to County Durham, but he has denied any wrongdoing and has received the full backing of Boris Johnson.

Durham Constabulary said it did not intend to take "retrospective action" against Mr Cummings, despite saying that he may have committed "a minor breach" of coronavirus lockdown rules when he drove the 50-mile round trip to Barnard Castle.

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Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in north London on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Justin TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRIDPORT, ENGLAND - MAY 27: A road sign stating 'Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives' has an additional sign added by members of the public stating 'Except Dominic Cummings' on May 27, 2020 in Bridport, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Protesters outside Downing Street, London, as the row over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings' Durham trip continues. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 27: A sign giving directions to Durham outside the Maltsters pub on May 27, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. British Prime Boris Johnson will today be questioned by senior MPs amid calls for his chief advisor Dominic Cummings to resign after he made a controversial lockdown trip to Durham.The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
During the UK's Coronavirus pandemic lockdown and in the 24hrs when a further 255 deaths occurred, bringing the official covid deaths to 37,048, and seen the day after the very unusual press conference by UK Prime Minister's special advisor Dominic Cummings about his breaking of lockdown rules, an elderly man walks past the message "Tory Scum Out!" which has been written on plyboard on a closed business in Soho, on 26th May 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Protestors holding placards calling for there resignation or sacking of Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings demonstrate outside the entrance to Downing Street in central London on May 27, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw his public support suffer the sharpest fall for a Conservative leader in a decade Wednesday as he prepared to be grilled by lawmakers over his handling of the Dominic Cummings scandal. Johnson has stuck by Cummings despite a public and political backlash over his top aide's travels to visit family despite the government's strict rules to curb the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home as the row over the Durham trip taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide continues.
Dominic Cummings, the chief advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street in London, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The prime minister's populist appeal has been hammered by news that, as the coronavirus outbreak raged, chief adviser Cummings drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) to his parents' house while he was falling ill with suspected COVID-19 — allegedly flouting lockdown rules that the government had imposed on the rest of the country. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A workman removes graffiti from a wall near the north London home of the Prime Minister's top aide Dominic Cummings as the row over his Durham trip during the coronavirus lockdown continues.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: A supporter of the Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, waits for him to leave his home on May 27, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020, Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings, senior advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city, having travelled with his wife and young son. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images,)
Dominic Cummings, the top aide to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. leaves his north London home the day after he a gave press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions Tuesday May 26, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Dominic Cummings, the top aide to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. leaves his north London home the day after he a gave press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions Tuesday May 26, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves his house in London next to a police officer, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, takes a drink as he makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street, London, Monday May 25, 2020, over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP)
Demonstrators sit on a windowsill with a placards as they protest near the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards as they protest outside of the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A mock signpost, giving directions to Barnard Castle, southwest of Durham, is pictured near to the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
A road sign is pictured on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, less than 30 miles southwest of Durham, north east England, on May 25, 2020, a popular tourist village that Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings acknowledged he visited during the COVID-19 lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top adviser Domonic Cummings said Monday he acted "reasonably and legally" despite mounting pressure on him to resign for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. "I don't think there is one rule for me and one rule for all people," Cummings told reporters in his first official press conference on the job. "In all circumstances, I believe I behaved reasonably and legally." (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings after he gave a press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings (C) speaks as he delivers a statement with journalists sat at a distance in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings arrives to deliver a statement in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings speaks as he delivers a statement in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A demonstrator displays a homemade placard calling for 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings to resign or be fired outside his home in London on May 25, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman protests outside 10 Downing Street, London, prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings giving his statement over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person wearing a PPE face mask proclaiming 'SACK CUMMINGS', as calls grow for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief SPAD, Dominic Cummings, to be sacked from his position for flouting the lockdown rules he helped to create, on 25th May 2020 in Manchester, UK. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Mary Wakefield, wife of Dominic Cummings, is seen outside their home on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aid Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of risking the Government's efforts to combat Covid-19 in order to defend his senior aide following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his home in London on May 25, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 24, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Mat 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by Isabel Infantes / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings returns to his home in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A big screen organised by British political campaign group Led By Donkeys mounted on a vehicle plays a clip from Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's March 23 address to the nation where he explained the stay-at-home coronavirus lockdown rules outside the home of Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under increased pressure on Sunday to sack top aide Dominic Cummings who was facing allegations that he had breached coronavirus lockdown rules for a second time. The British government has so far rejected calls to sack Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country with his wife while she was suffering from symptoms of the disease, but even MPs from his own party were calling for him to leave on Sunday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A big screen organised by British political campaign group Led By Donkeys mounted on a vehicle plays a video clip outside the home of Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under increased pressure on Sunday to sack top aide Dominic Cummings who was facing allegations that he had breached coronavirus lockdown rules for a second time. The British government has so far rejected calls to sack Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country with his wife while she was suffering from symptoms of the disease, but even MPs from his own party were calling for him to leave on Sunday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A video by political campaign group Led By Donkeys of the statement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is shown outside the north London home of his senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A police officer talks to a protester outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Two police officers arrive at the home of Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is seen leaving his house on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Mary Wakefield, wife of Dominic Cummings, is seen outside their home on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aid Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government with the Prime Minister facing pressure to sack his closest aide after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
A protester writes out a message outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions.
File photo dated 14/04/20 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial aide Dominic Cummings as he arrives in Downing Street with his assistant, Cleo Watson on his return to work for the first time since news that the aide was suffering from Coronavirus emerged. Questions were raised about his adherence to social distancing advice as he is photographed walking down Downing Street with fellow aide Cleo Watson.
File screengrab dated 24/03/20 taken from PA video of Dominic Cummings, Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as he arrives in Downing Street, London, the day after the Prime Minister put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The controversial aide is back in the headlines - this time for travelling more than 260 miles to Durham during the lockdown.
FILE PHOTO dated 03/09/19 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his senior aide Dominic Cummings in Downing Street, central London. Lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government with the Prime Minister facing pressure to sack his closest aide after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions.
Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, arrives in Downing Street, London.
File photo dated 17/03/20 of Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, who has been taking part in meetings of the senior scientists advising the Government on the coronavirus outbreak, it has been reported.
Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, listens during a press conference at Downing Street, London, on the government's coronavirus action plan. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 3, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Frank Augstein/PA Wire
Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings at a news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, after the latest COBRA meeting to discuss the government's response to coronavirus crisis. Picture date: Monday March 16, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times /PA Wire
A pro European campaigner holds a photograph of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson's special adviser, Dominic Cummings in Westminster, London. The UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. (Photo by Steve Taylor / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings arrives with an unidentified woman in Downing Street, London.
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Downing Street said the Prime Minister "regards this issue as closed", after he repeatedly urged the UK to "move on" despite mounting Tory anger and plummeting poll ratings.

On Thursday, Mr Johnson avoided answering questions about Mr Cummings, and blocked his chief medical and scientific advisers, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, from responding to journalists to "protect them" from a "political argument".

Here are the questions that went unanswered.

– "If one of your [Mr Johnson's] most senior team was not paying proper attention to the rules why should anyone else? And to the doctors – is that the kind of example you want people to follow?"

Mr Johnson refused to answer the question from the BBC, which referenced how Durham police would have sent Mr Cummings home had officers seen him at Barnard Castle.

Coronavirus - Thu May 28, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street [Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA]
He subsequently stopped Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick from answering the question directed at them.

Mr Johnson said: "I've said quite a lot on this matter already and I also noticed that Durham police said that they were going to take no action and that the matter was closed.

"I intend to draw a line under the matter."

He continued: "I know that you've asked Chris and Patrick, but I'm going to interpose myself if I may and protect them from what I think would be an unfair and unnecessary attempt to ask a political question.

"It's very, very important that our medical officer and scientific advisers do not get dragged into what most people would recognise as fundamentally a political argument."

– Did Sir Patrick and Prof Whitty "fear compliance with rules will be reduced as a result?"

Mr Johnson was told by ITV that a number of scientific advisers to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have said that Mr Cummings' behaviour risked more people not complying with social distancing rules.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, during the media briefing in Downing Street (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA)

One of those advisers, social psychologist Professor Stephen Reicher, who is on the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours which passes its advice to Sage, said earlier this week that Mr Johnson had "trashed" their advice.

In response to the question, Mr Johnson repeated his earlier statement of wanting to protect the advisers from "being dragged into political controversy" and described the matter as a "distraction".

"We want to get some very clear and simple messages across to the British public," Mr Johnson said.

"What they want to hear is what we are doing to tackle coronavirus and what the plan is.

"We've announced a huge amount today and I think people need to focus on those messages."

– "Are you [Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick] entirely comfortable with the Prime Minister telling you that you can't answer questions about Dominic Cummings? Is there anything else the Prime Minister has told you not to answer on?"

The advisers gave short responses to the question posed by Sky News.

Prof Whitty said: "I can assure you that the desire not to get pulled into politics is far stronger on the part of Sir Patrick and me than it is in the Prime Minister."

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during the media briefing (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA)

Sir Patrick replied: "I'm a civil servant, I'm politically neutral, I don't want to get involved in politics at all."

– "Would you [Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick] advise motorists to go on a 50-mile round trip to test their eyesight?"

The question by the Sun newspaper referenced Mr Cummings' claims that he drove to Barnard Castle with his family to test his eyesight after it was affected by Covid-19.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Moorfields Eye Hospital said on Tuesday that there is little evidence of a link between Covid-19 and eyesight problems.

The question was ignored.

– "Can you [Mr Johnson] bring yourself to utter any words of criticism of how he [Mr Cummings] has acted?"

With the Prime Minister not intending to sack Mr Cummings, the Belfast News Letter raised concerns some people would dismiss lockdown measures due to his actions.

Again, the question went answered.

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